Author : Christopher Albanese

There it is, a wide-open wink. It slowly slid the light from my eyes, then the warmth from my face. And still there it sits.

They say there’s no sound of it, here or in space, but I feel in my bones the hum of such a gargantuan braking of motion.

They say there’s no smell, no way a smell could be caused by the most passive of galactic events, these massive bodies just passing each other by in our sky; but I smell cordite, and I smell burnt lumber. I smell blood.

Around me the fires still blaze, but the screams have long since passed from this remote, rolling green hill. It is springtime and warm in Wisconsin, and the hills in the Midwest do just as they say, roll and roll and roll. It looks as if they roll right off the Earth’s edges.

The darkness of night clings like humid velvet to the noontime sky. Fires glare and sparkle. Fewer and fewer miles away, the Atlantic heaves and boils as it spumes across West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana. Before the lights went out, they said it would slow when it hit Lake Michigan, but not for long. Milwaukee would be gone before Chicago finished a final exhale.

Last November, they said it was going to be spectacular, the first total solar eclipse visible from the US in almost 40 years. Back then, with Thanksgiving still a week away and a full Wisconsin winter to endure, August was still a distant closeout to a far off summer, and was not at the forefront of most people’s minds.

But on May 21 – just three months before the eclipse – word came from the Keck Observatory that something seemed wrong up there, something with the moon. They said it was rotating the wrong way, or slowing down, or something. It was a lot of scientific talk about “lunar torque” and “tidal bulge,” but CNN, CBC, the BBC, they all distilled the chatter to the same chilling fact: The moon was going to snap its gravitational elastic given the right push…or pull.

It was all a matter of timing.

Around me, the night quavers; behind me, the ocean moans. Above me, the total solar eclipse – the first, and last, in my lifetime – has finished its thirtieth brutal hour.

They say there’s no sound of it, here or in space, but I feel in my bones the snap of a gargantuan, celestial elastic. Above me, the corona around the moon begins to expand as it is pulled away from the Earth.

Around me, the night withers; behind me, the ocean roars. As the moon’s umbra dilates and salt water fills the air, I reach up to touch the glare and sparkle of the winking sun.

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